What is Hammcrafted?
Hammcrafted is a business that I started in January 2011 when I was accepted to the Cabinet & Furniture Making Program at the North Bennet Street School in Boston, Massachusetts. With a few parameters in mind - six months to the full time program, sights on a furniture making business, staying at home with an eighteen month old daughter, and limited shop (kitchen!) space - I decided to start making puzzles.
Before I say more about the puzzles there is a little bit more going on in the name Hammcrafted.
First of all, Hamm, perhaps obviously, is replacing hand. Replacing may actually not be the right word: 'standing in for' is better.
I find myself frustrated with the proliferation of the term handcrafted and I object to the use of the term to sell a product for more than it is worth or to cast a romantic glow on the maker. The truth of the matter is that nothing is really hand crafted unless it is formed exclusively with my hands and without the use of tools - a ball of clay or a hiking stick broken down to size (foot crafted?).
I have the highest regard for those who are able to use what are commonly considered hand tools for all phases of their projects. I would go so far as to say that it is only those who are in that elite group, within the furniture making community, who can truly call their work hand crafted. In the case of these makers handcrafted means crafted by the use of tools that have become extensions of the hands holding them.
The argument over the definition of tools, machines and their appropriate application has been ongoing since at least the Industrial Revolution and will continue into the foreseeable future. I think that jigsaw puzzles offer an interesting perspective to the argument. It is customary to say that a jigsaw puzzle has been hand cut if it was made by a person standing in front of scroll saw (electrically powered!), guiding the puzzle into the moving blade one piece at time. Even though the puzzle has been "hand cut" the maker of the puzzle cannot say that he or she used a hand tool in the making of the puzzle or that he or she has an "unplugged shop". My personal opinion is that any tool, from a bench chisel to a CNC router, is a form of technology. The root of the word is tekne (skill) and logos (knowledge/understanding) so that technology, powered or unpowered, suggests appropriate skill. When a person uses a tool with skill appropriate to the task at hand(!) it is to the person's credit. Nevertheless, in order to avoid this whole argument, no one can say that something made by me was made by any one else and so I have settled on the term Hammcrafted.
Secondly, Hammcrafted is a brand. This is where we get back to the puzzles.
I have settled on the making of puzzles as a way to approach the running of a business and development of a product. They allow me to experiment with design (the two-layer puzzles) and the troubleshooting that goes into any new product (particularly the jigsaw puzzles). Despite the fact that I am relatively new to this and have received no formal training* in puzzle making, I have been experimenting quite a bit and I am confident in and proud of each of my products. I am certain that you will be pleased with any purchase that you make.
When you buy something from Hammcrafted you are buying something made exclusively by me, Charles Hamm: currently in the beginnings of a career. One more parameter that I had when I started Hammcrafted was the desire to establish my professional ethic. I am humbled at the influence a new customer has on my future as a maker and respect that I am asking for your money in exchange for one of my puzzles. Whatever it is that I may be making for you I will work to the best of my ability to send you something that meets your high expectations and acknowledges the value of your dollar.
I am motivated by my now two year old daughter, her new baby sister and the demands of having a family. I find inspiration in the fine furniture designed and built by the Shakers as well as their work ethic, the off-kilter designs of Gary Bennett, the masterful work of another young maker, Trevor Hadden, and the down-to-earth attitude of Peter Galbert in the making of his Windsor chairs. I hope one day to have the skill of any of these craftsmen and aspire to make my own contribution to the world of furniture design and craftsmanship.
Thank you for visiting Hammcrafted!